There is little doubt it will cost more for people and cargo to move through the waterway, but no specific numbers are available. Those will be forthcoming at the conclusion of hearings on the proposed changes. The ACP will welcome comments, “data, opinions and written statements (in English or Spanish)” before a March 12 deadline. Following that, there will be a public hearing on March 14, after which, it’s assumed, actual rate increases will be published.
One proposed change characterized as simplifying and streamlining operations is to charge vessels based on their maximum displacement draft rather than their draft upon arrival at the Canal. There have already been some small administrative changes in the language and grammar of some Canal documents that are characterized as having no economic impact.
For passenger ships, larger vessels will be charged tolls on a per berth basis, while smaller ships will continue to be billed under the Canal’s tonnage tolls system.
When made public, the ACP indicates that any adjustments and implementation of the new tolls will be by industry verticals, the ACP enumerates as container vessels, passenger vessels, general cargo, refrigerated cargo, dry bulk, tankers and vehicle carriers. Only container ships have had toll increases during the last four years.
"We recognize the value of the Panama Canal and its service to the shipping and maritime communities, and, indeed, to global trade,” says Alberto Alemàn Zubieta, ACP administrator and CEO. “These new prices will allow us to continue providing the industry with the service they want and the service they deserve. At the same time, they will allow us to make the programmed investments for the Panama Canal Master Plan, which proposes to expand the capacity of the existing Canal through the construction of a third set of locks.”